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(SAYREVILLE) — Assemblyman John Wisniewski, chairman of the New Jersey Fire Safety Commission, reminded New Jerseyans Wednesday to keep fire safety precautions in mind when decorating their homes for the holidays with a live demonstration of a Christmas tree fire.

“Few people realize how little heat is actually needed to ignite a Christmas tree fire,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “Fewer still can believe how fast the fire can grow and spread. Reminding New Jersey residents of this fact can help them prevent merry holiday decorations from transforming into a terrifying blaze.”

Working in conjunction with the Middlesex County Fire Academy, Freeholder Mildred Scott and Fire Marshal Michael Gallagher, Wisniewski conducted a live fire demonstration to show how quickly a natural Christmas tree can catch fire and how quickly that fire can spread. Officials also focused on how best to prevent these types of fires, educating attendees on:

  • The actual flammability of holiday pine trees, real and fake;,/li>
  • The proper care and maintenance of live holiday trees;
  • The proper use of fire extinguishers for wood and electrical fires; and
  • General safety tips on electrical wiring and holiday lighting.

“It is incredibly important for us to take every precaution when decorating during the holiday season,” said Wisniewski. “A moment’s mistake is all it takes for a fire to start.”

Wisniewski said that everyone’s holiday planning should include the following fire safety tips:

Holiday Decorations:

  • Inspect lights every year to make sure that wires are not frayed;
  • Replace broken and burnt out bulbs;
  • Use only UL-approved lights with no more than three strands connected;
  • Turn the lights off when you go out or go to sleep;
  • Do not let lights touch anything that can easily catch fire, like paper/cardboard;
  • Make sure all decorations are nonflammable or flame-retardant; and
  • Do not put decorations directly above or in the immediate vicinity of a fireplace.

Tree Safety:

  • Take proper care of your tree by giving it the right amount of water and preservatives on a regular basis;
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, make sure it is fire resistant;
  • Do not place the tree near a heating source, such as a fireplace or a heating vent;
  • Do not smoke or flick cigarettes near the tree; and
  • When discarding the tree, do not burn it in the fireplace, and makes sure to place it outside for municipal pick up.

And, as always, check all fire alarms and replace the batteries as necessary.